NEWS1 February 2022

2021 strongest-ever year for marketing budgets

Asia Pacific Europe Latin America Media Middle East and Africa News North America UK

GLOBAL – Last year was the strongest ever for marketing budgets on a global scale, with growth led by digital, mobile, TV and out-of-home (OOH) advertising, according to Warc’s latest Global Marketing Index (GMI). 

Ad billboards going up an escalator in an underground station

The GMI review of 2021 report shows that recovery from the pandemic was maintained, with vaccine programmes across the world having helped markets set themselves up to live with Covid-19.

There was a 23.8% resurgence in marketing budgets across channels in 2021, valued at $771bn, with digital and mobile media up by 41.9%, over-the-top (OTT) video by 41.6% and search by 39.4%. TV budgets increased by 5.5% from the previous 12 months and OOH by 21.8%.

Although key indices in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas remained in growth,  those Asia-Pacific markets that operated a zero-Covid-19 strategy saw decreased rates of growth in the summer, in line with restrictions being imposed.

This is in contrast to markets in Europe and the Americas, which saw the highest rates of growth in the same period. Despite this, markets in Asia-Pacific have since recovered, with marketing budgets and trading conditions showing a higher level of growth compared to Europe and the Americas. 

Also captured in the GMI is how staffing levels in the Americas consistently outperformed Europe and Asia-Pacific last year. However, the movement is not limited to that region: staffing levels in both Europe and Asia-Pacific saw an increased rate of growth in Q4.

From August onwards, global staffing levels saw the highest rates of growth since the inception of the index in 2011, with November and December at 65.3 (the highest index value). The report notes that this is likely to remain a challenge in 2022 as regions battle with factors such as Brexit, work-life balance and the worker-employer relationship.

Summing up the report’s findings, Zoe McCready, senior research executive at Warc, said: “The GMI 2021 shows a consistent overall increase in growth throughout the year. This reflects an industry that is largely weathering the impact of the pandemic as it rapidly adjusts to new trading conditions. These point to the ongoing strength of digital and mobile channels, driven by the continued rise of e-commerce. 

“Increased staffing levels recorded globally make up for the impact of ‘the great resignation’, however, this could present productivity challenges in 2022, due to factors such as skills shortages.”